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As advances are made in electronic circuit design and construction, harvesting useable assets for the budget- minded enthusiast is becoming harder to do. One species of fruit often overlooked as being too devoted for a specific use can also be employed in a non- traditional manner. Transformers and coils from high voltage T.V. and switching power supplies tend to be made of magnet wire that is an electrolytically refined copper, fully annealed, several feet [meters] in length, and insulated, so this can be some handy stuff to have in the resource (Junk) box.

Step 1: Safety First

Striking tools may be used, eye protection is recommended.

High voltage and switching type power supplies may harbor hazardous voltage, ensure the removal of such energy before handling or dismantling any circuitry.

Step 2: Obtaining a Supply

I start by using a sharp carpenter's chisel and easily slicing off the components from scrap boards, then with a small hammer I gently break off the ferrite cores and end up with a neat coil of wire on a bobbin, all ready for dispensing. Two wire types are usually encountered: solid, and super fine stranded and twisted. The solid type is great for hookup work, and responds well to a simple application of heat from an average bench soldering iron of about 30 watts, this causes the polymer insulation to retract or dissolve so the solder can bond sufficiently to the core surface. A little tip rubbing movement or end tinning may also be employed to enhance the process. Although the end result looks less than pristine, it's only the remains of the insulation that have migrated to the outer surface of the bead, and have no effect on joint conductivity. The twisted type, with the same soldering characteristics, is superior for applications where vibration and movement are expected, as well as supply rails. The gauge of the wire ranges from 20 A.W.G. to 22 and smaller, pretty serviceable stuff for most experimenters.

Step 3: Suggested Uses

For bonding grounds or rails between boards, I like to take my .031 [.8mm] diameter solder and loop it a few times and finish with a twist, This gets me a nice hunk of large diameter solder rod which can lay down a thick dollop of solder very fast. An optional abrasion resisting sleeve can be slipped over the wire if needed. As a utility wire, it nicely secures a heatsink without drilling or tapping by simply soldering the ends to an adjacent pad. Surprisingly tough, it is difficult to break it away.

Accepted traditional uses are also varied too such as:

  • Motor Experiments
  • Toroidal Transformers
  • Breadboard/ Protoboard Interconnections
  • Etc.

Step 4: Parting Thoughts

Capacitors can leak & degrade over time, semiconductors can become obsolete, but copper remains true. It is a commodity after all, actively traded as such and has an indefinite shelf life. Some of the best quality is used in electronics simply because of the demands put to it for such application, so grabbing some that comes your way is a smart, beneficial, and environmentally good thing to do at little to no cost.

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